Bill addressing Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s financial sustainability introduced at General Assembly

FOX21 News file photo

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — House Bill 17-1321 was introduced to Colorado lawmakers this week.

It’s designed to bring a stable and sustainable source of funding to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and follows more than a year of public meetings with legislators and outdoor enthusiasts statewide to gather feedback on addressing CPW’s financial challenges.

Officials say CPW relies on revenue from hunters, anglers and park visitors to cover its expenses. CPW gets less than one tenth of one percent of its budget from the general fund, according to officials.

Officials say park visitation continues to rise while resident hunting and fishing license fees were last set by the legislature in 2005. Since then, inflation has cut CPW’s spending power by 22 percent. That has led the agency to de-fund 50 positions and cut $40 million from its budget, as well as defer maintenance on its 110 dams.

The bill would provide the 11-member Parks and Wildlife Commission with authority to set parks, hunting and fishing fees within a legislatively mandated cap, allowing CPW Commission to do the following:

  • Increase individual park fees, as well as resident hunting and fishing licenses generally by no more than 50 percent. Sets the fee for an annual senior fishing license at no more than one-half the price of annual resident fishing licenses.
  • Increase application fees for hunting licenses allocated through a drawing to $20.
  • Establish Aquatic Nuisance Species watercraft sticker fees at $15 (non-motorized over 10 feet), $25 (in-state motorized) and $50 (out-of-state-motorized).

Passage of the bill would not lead CPW to seek immediate fee increases that hit the 50 percent cap.

The CPW Commission will invite additional public input before any fee increases are implemented.

Additionally, the bill would allow for increases in certain non-resident license fees (primarily fishing and small game) as well as allow future resident and nonresident fee changes based on the Consumer Price Index.

CPW’s financial projections show that $14 million in additional revenue will be needed by 2023 simply to maintain current wildlife-related levels of service, and $6.5 million more by that year to maintain existing park operations, according to officials with Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s